‘He will now rest in peace’: Ahmaud Arbery’s mother thanks God, supporters after guilty verdicts

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – Following the guilty verdicts for the three Georgia men in the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the parents of Arbery walked out of the courthouse with their hands raised high.

They were greeted by a large group of cheering supporters who were also celebrating the verdict handed down by a jury Wednesday afternoon.

Arbery’s mother Wanda Cooper-Jones thanked the supporters when she addressed them and the media.

“It’s been a long fight. It’s been a hard fight, but God is good,” Cooper-Jones said. “To tell you the truth, I never saw this day back in 2020. I never thought this day would come, but God is good. And I just want to tell everybody, thank you. Thank you to those who marched...most of all the ones who prayed. Thank you. Now ‘Quez’ — which you know him as Ahmaud, I know him as ‘Quez’ — he will now rest in peace.”

Cooper-Jones was flanked by Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr., as well as Rev. Al Sharpton and family attorneys Benjamin Crump and Lee Merritt.

“Let us thank all of the people that believed, and let us more than anything thank the mother and father of Ahmaud,” Sharpton said. “They lost a son but their son will go down in history as one that proved that if you hold on that justice can come.”

After deliberating for about 10 hours over two days, the jury in the case against three white men charged with murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery returned with a verdict Wednesday afternoon, finding the shooter, Travis McMichael, guilty of malice murder and the other eight counts against him.

Travis McMichael’s father, Greg, was found guilty of eight of the nine counts against him, and William “Roddie” Bryan was found guilty of all but three counts against him.

As the judge read the first guilty verdict aloud, Cooper-Jones wept as Sharpton held her hand. Marcus Arbery at the same moment leaped up and cheered. The judge asked sheriff’s deputies to remove him from the courtroom for the outburst.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Marcus Arbery said as he left the room.

Cheers could be heard from the hallways inside the courtroom and the atmosphere outside the courthouse was jubilant, as Black Lives Matter flags waved and supporters chanted.

“Let the word go forth all over the world that a jury of 11 whites and one Black in the Deep South, stood up in the courtroom and said that Black lives do matter,” Sharpton said.

Hundreds of supporters were seen celebrating outside the courthouse, including Felicia Ricks, who lives in Brunswick.

“This is a lot of justice and I’m proud to see it,” Ricks said. “This is the start of another chapter.”

And a new chapter of healing for Arbery’s family.

“There will be the memories that you can now talk about and smile, versus the memories of talking and crying,” said Arbery’s aunt, Theawanza Brook.

Antoine Morris, who lives in Brunswick, says she’s hopeful for change.

“I think it’s gonna shed some light,” Morris said. “Open the eyes more that times are changing.”

About the Authors:

A Florida girl and North Carolina A&T SU grad who thrives in breaking news.

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.